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Atlanta Restaurant Updates: new places & faces


micropundit
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A CUT ABOVE?

A very reliable source reports that the newly opened MAXIM PRIME STEAKHOUSE, located in downtown’s chic Glenn Hotel, is serving out some fabulous food and is not just a hotspot for trendinistas looking for their next cool fix.

With the recent rash of NYC imports coming to our fair shores, it is good to hear that this spot is going all out with its cuisine, service and style. I was not feeling them based on the print and internet material sent my way; it reminded me of some semi-sleazy joint where guys with their shirts open to their navels met girls with skirts up to their… . Anywho, it appears that this is not the case so I am looking forward to checking it out posthaste.

A LOOK FURTHER DOWN THE ROAD.

The Atlanta Journal Constitution’s 2008 Spring Dining Guide provided some interesting variations on the theme and looked into the near future concerning some of the new players coming on to our dining scene. In spite of the absence of a top 10 list (come on its tournament time, I need rankings) and the fact that it was not a separate stand alone document, I enjoyed Meridith Ford’s opus.

But she did leave out a couple of major projects in her look down the road so I thought I would add two for your reading pleasure.

First, there is the Buckhead Life Group’s new flagship at 3344 Peachtree scheduled to come on line late this year: a Bill Johnson design; Pano’s grand café and big bucks being spent.

Then there is NEO, the Italian themed in-house restaurant at the soon to opened Mansion on Peachtree Hotel. With Eric Chopin fresh from the CAFÉ at the Ritz Carlton Buckhead as the Executive chef and the Rosewood people eager to establish their Atlanta bona fides (we are not impressed with Texas excess), this should be an interesting addition to the mix as well.

There are others as well but you get the point; there are a lot of very interesting additions to Atlanta’s dining scene coming on line this year in a neighborhood close to you.

NEWS and NOTES: (From my keyboard to your screen)

Buckhead. Guido Piccinni, former GM at PRICCI, has been named Director of Specialty dining for NEO,at the Mansion on Peachtree.

KIKU JAPONESE STEAK AND SEAFOOD HOUSE has opened their 4th Atlanta location at 2770 Peachtree Road.

Cabbagetown. Several neighborhood restaurants have planned a “dine out” on April 14th to benefit those residents affected by the recent tornado. For details, visit: www.AtlantaTornadoRelief.com.

Downtown (DT). STATS’ innovative beer taps were the subject of a recent AP video story declaring them to be the first of its kind in the country.

East Atlanta. THE GLENWOOD is expanding its dining room and adding a wine bar.

East Point. The owners of Castleberry Hill’s WASABI are rumored to be opening a second restaurant in downtown called WHITE ELEPHANT this fall.

Old Fourth Ward. TWO URBAN LICKS was featured on a recent ABC program “The View” as one of the restaurants serving the “hottest food in the country”.

Tim Magee, formerly of SOUTH CITY KITCHEN, will be the opening chef at PARISH FOODS and GOODS.

Sandy Springs. KC PIT BARBEQUE will move from its current spot to a larger space at 6317 Roswell Road this spring.

Question of the Week: What hot in town tapas spot is rumored to be opening a new upscale restaurant this summer?

Thanks for stopping by and remember to keep away from people who belittle your ambition. The answer to last week’s QOTW-What Raving Brands concept is being readied for a possible national roll out?- is SHANE’S.

100% right 50% of the time.

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HOLEMAN & FINCH PUBLIC HOUSE, Linton Hopkins, et al’s gastro pub, is scheduled to open Wednesday, March 12th.

I'm really looking forward to this opening, which has been pushed back to the week of 14 April. A driving force behind Holeman and Finch (which is right across the driveway from Restaurant Eugene) is longtime Eugene employee Greg Best, one of the most talented and dedicated mixologists I know.

Dave Scantland
Executive director
dscantland@eGstaff.org
eG Ethics signatory

Eat more chicken skin.

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DINING OUT FOR LIFE.

On Wednesday, April 23rd, simply dining out for breakfast lunch or dinner at the almost 200 participating restaurants during Open Hand’s 16th annual Dining Out For Life will assist in providing home delivered meals and nutritional services to senior citizens and individuals with debilitating and chronic diseases. Participating restaurants in the Atlanta metro area will donate a minimum of 20 percent of food and beverage sales that day to Open Hand.

Dining Out for Life restaurants include popular hot spots, longtime favorites and casual eateries in neighborhoods throughout metro Atlanta including Alpharetta, Candler Park, Atlanta, Buckhead, Decatur, Duluth, Emory-Druid Hills, Flowery Branch, Inman Park, Virginia Highland, Marietta, Midtown, Roswell, Sandy Springs, and Vinings.

For further information call 404-419-3333 or visit www.projectopenhand.org.

A BRAND NEW BRAND.

Brand Atlanta is about to launch a major new campaign focusing on the awards and accolades that the ATL’s restaurants received in 2007 called” The Atlanta Gourmet Adventure”. Among the features will be winning “foodie “prizes and packages to visit Atlanta.

I trust that this campaign will have a better reception than their last branding effort; but to make sure, all of you “foodies” out there, visit www.atlopen.com and provide some suggestions. Please.

NEWS and NOTES: (From my keyboard to your screen)

Alpharetta. DI PAOLO top toque, Darin Hiebel, has purchased the restaurant and is now operating it as chef and owner.

VITA LAVIE, a modern tea house that also features smoothies as well as pastries from JOLI KOBE, has opened at 9945 Jones Bridge Road.

Buckhead. AMC’s BACKLOT THEATER, which already offers its patrons food, wine and beer, has applied for a liquor license in order to offer mixed drinks as well.

Cabbagetown. VILLAGE PIZZA has reopened with new ownership. Andy Alibaksh, who owns the nearby CARROL STREET CAFÉ, is the new owner and is reportedly using the same menu and several of the original staff.

Downtown (DT). Toast of The Town, a national wine fest sponsored by Wine Enthusiast magazine, will hold its first ATL event featuring several local restos, on Thursday, April 17th at the Georgia Aquarium. For details, visit www.wineenthusiast.com.

JAVOLOGY, the cash only caffeine café, has closed.

Inman Park. Cake lovers can experience the ultimate in pound cakes at CAKES BY ME & GEE, located in the Irwin Street Market, 660 Irwin Street.

QUESTION of the WEEK: What upscale multi unit restaurant operator, who just opened their first project in the ATL, is rumored to already be looking for a location for another of its concepts?

Thank you for tuning in and remember to praise more and to criticize less.

PS. The answer to last week’s QOTW- What intown tapas spot is rumored to be opening a new upscale restaurant this spring?- is PURA VIDA.

100% right 50% of the time.

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BLAIS GOING (TO) HOME.

In a move that has the ATL buzzing, Tom Catherall’s Here to Serve Restaurants is changing POSH-the former SEEGER’S- to a new concept called HOME. According to my sources,” with the economy the way it is Tom felt a new concept making people feel closer to ‘home’ would surely be a hit”.

HOME, which is scheduled to open Tuesday, April 22, will offer upscale southern comfort food-the draft menu that I saw had items like fried blue foot chicken and chicken fried soft shelled crab.(Think JCT does Buckhead .) But the real shocker is that Richard Blais, the peripatetic practitioner of producing playful plates, has been hired to run the show.

While this turn of events is rippling through the local dining scene, it also has some implications for the national scene as well. As many of you are aware, Richard is a contestant on Top Chef 4 and is a strong contender for the top prize. With this move it certainly raises the question of whether or not he won.

The good news is that after all of his travels in and around Atlanta’s dining scene, RB is back were he started, in Buckhead(FISHBONE) and this time maybe, just maybe the deal will work out for all concerned: the guy has too much talent and our dining scene needs him as much as he needs us. So let’s welcome him home.

SWEET 15.

SOUTH CITY KITCHEN Midtown turns 15 next week and they are celebrating with a special three-course menu of some old favorites from Tuesday, April 17 to Sunday, April 26 at both Fifth Group Restaurant locations in Midtown and Vinings. For details, visit: www.fifthgroup.com

NEWS and NOTES: (From my keyboard to your screen).

Buckhead.In addition to HOLEMAN and FITCH PUBLIC HOUSE, their gastro pub, on April 14th, Linton and Gina Hopkins will also open H & F BAKERY. H & F , which will be adjacent to HOLEMAN and FITCH, will open at 6:30 am serving coffee, bagels and breads baked in their French bread oven that will also service the restaurants as well as provide an array of wholesale baked goods.

Decatur. SABA, an Italian restaurant located near Emory University, plans to move into the former PASTA PLEASE location on Sycamore Street this summer.

Downtown (DT). A “top, huge international name” has been signed to oversee the restaurant slated to go into the proposed Hard Rock Hotel across from The Georgia Aquarium.

RARE, the soul food tapas spot, suffered a serious fire last weekend and to add to the misery, the fire also damaged the adjacent MIDTOWN TAVERN.

East Point. WHITE ELEPHANT THAI RESTAURANT has opened at 2801 East Point Avenue. It is the second restaurant from the WASABI folks and Chef Supalerk Pornponboonvif is the top toque.

Marietta. CARIBE CAFÉ, the tiny Haitian owned shop, has closed.

PIEZONI’S, a Rhode Island based pizza restaurant group, has opened their first restaurant in the south at 3960 Mary Eliza Place.

Midtown. THE VERMONT MUSTARD COMPANY, the upscale organic soup and sandwich shop, will open a store on Peachtree Street this summer

QUESTION of the WEEK: What cuisine is rumored to be featured in the restaurant Here To Serve Restaurants is planning for the EMERIL’S location?

Thank you for stopping by and remember that most people are more easily led than driven.

PS. The answer to last week’s QOTW-What upscale multi-unit operator who just opened their first project in the ATL, is rumored to be looking for a location for another project?-is China Grill Management (MAXIM PRIME)

100% right 50% of the time.

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COOL SPICE.

If you want to experience what Atlanta is moving toward in terms of taste and style, then check out SPICE MARKET in the “techno glam” W Midtown Atlanta for taste of contemporary cuisine, design and service that defines the art of the possible for Atlanta’s dining scene.

SPICE MARKET is Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s fantasy interpretation of South Asian street food writ large. The Atlanta edition combines the simple preparations made, with prime product, into complex flavors that artfully blends the notes of the various spices that his cuisine is famous for. Chef Ian Winsblade is producing a menu that has more top notes than NAN; in a décor that is cooler than TAMARIND SEED and at a price point lower than STEEL.

The total experience is further enhanced by the attention to details such as the menu covering mimicking the burlap sacks that rice is traditionally shipped in from Asia. The atmosphere appeals equally to trendinistas; hotel quests; as well as neighborhood noshers because there is something for everyone: good food, a great vibe; good (and knowledgeable) service, at a reasonable price. And although SPICE MARKET (and the W) is still not fully operational, all of these notes blend together into an experience as cool as a Miles Davis solo.

A STAR IS BORN.

I checked out STELLA NEIGHBORHOOD TRATTORIA, the new Grant Park eatery, recently and came away pleased not only with the dining experience but the positive changes being brought about in the neighborhood because of the restaurant and the residential building it is housed in.

On a recent Friday night, there were families, couples and regulars all congregating in a very communal atmosphere for affordable and delicious Italian food and bar fare. Both the inside and patio sections were full of folks enjoying the food and each other. And that is the type of experience that makes a neighborhood an attractive place to live, work and play in. And STELLA appears to be a shining star in the Grant Park neighborhood.

NEWS and NOTES: (From my keyboard to your screen)

Buckhead. CHOPS was listed at number 46($13.2 million) on Restaurant and Institutions magazine’s annual Top 100 grossing independent restaurants survey. It was the only Atlanta restaurant to make the list.

Downtown (DT). PANCHERO’S MEXICAN GRILL, an Iowa based chain with 45 locations in 14 states, will open their first Georgia location in the Twelve Centennial Park Hotel and Residences this summer.

TIN DRUM ASIAN CAFÉ, an Atlanta based noodle house, is opening its third store in the Flatiron building this summer.

The rumor is that Kaighn Raymond is no longer top toque at FAB.

East Atlanta. SANFRANCISCO COFFE HOUSE will open their third location at 1660 Dekalb Avenue next month.

East Point. THE TASTING ROOM on Camp Creek Parkway has closed.

Sandy Springs. COCKTAIL COVE SANDY SPRINGS will open this summer in the former AMERICAN PIE location on Roswell Road.

West Midtown. MILK and HONEY, a 24 hour café with a retail component, has opened in the former PANGAEA spot.

Question of the Week: What former Buckhead Village hotspot is rumored to be relocating to a Midtown location?

Thanks for tuning in and remember that some individuals dream of doing great things, while others stay awake and do them.

PS. The answer to last week’s QOTW- What cuisine is rumored to be featured in the restaurant Here To Serve Restaurants is planning for the EMERIL’S location?- is Asian(AJA is the proposed name).

100% right 50% of the time.

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http://www.accessatlanta.com/restaurants/c...meril_0421.html

"Emeril's Atlanta is the only restaurant we have ever closed and we are very sad about having to do so," chef Emeril Lagasse said via a prepared statement e-mailed to Buzz. "We tried very hard for four years to achieve the results we had hoped for. We will miss having a presence here. We have made a lot of friends in the Atlanta community but unfortunately were never able to generate the volume we expected when we entered the market."

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Buckhead. CHOPS was listed at number 46($13.2 million) on Restaurant and Institutions magazine’s annual Top 100 grossing independent restaurants survey. It was the only Atlanta restaurant to make the list.

This AJC article says

Chops/Chops' Lobster Bar came in at 46th, with $13 million in sales. Bone's followed in 95th place with an estimated $10.9 million in sales, and Atlanta Fish Market squeaked onto the list in 99th place with $10.5 million in sales.

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SAVOR RATTLING.

Amidst all of the hoopla about the latest entries to Atlanta’s dining scene, from new faces in old places to new places with old faces, there has been a constant clamoring among the various press releases, media stories and blog buzz: everyone is claiming that they are going to be the best thing to ever hit the ATL. So in the interest of truth, justice and your well being, I went forth to see (and taste) what was what. Here are some first impressions:

STRAITS. Chris and Chris’s San Francisco treat features a mélange of Malaysian meals that are set in the former SPICE spot. The food is good but could use some more-er, spice. Has an upscale vibe. Chef Chris Yeo has the personality that could keep folks coming back for more.

MAXIM PRIME. New York based operator’s model for a national franchise of sexy steak houses/clubs. Lunch menu was good, service was prompt; the hotel location is a plus. It will definitely be a big tourist draw

HOLEMAN and FINCH. Atlanta’s latest gastro-pub; did not eat here but got the tour and a menu. Intimate and less formal than its parent, RESTAURANT EUGENE, it has a very intriguing menu featuring a new twist on some old favorites.

PARISH. The renovated factory is, in a phrase, eclectic elegance. Concentrics’ New Orleans influenced restaurant/grocery/ take out spot has, at first glance, the vibe of a comfortable neighborhood joint where anyone can find a good time and the good times will roll here. I liked their emphasis on sustainable, organic and local produce and practices.

The new kids on the respective blocks all have some strong points but at the end of the day, the hype is over; everyone is going to have to play big or go home.

NEWS and NOTES: (From my keyboard to your screen)

Alpharetta. PIG n’ CHIX, an Atlanta barbeque fave, will open its first franchise operation this summer at 3050 Winward Parkway.

Buckhead. DRESSED, the ultra modern Midtown salad with style spot, will open a store in Terminus this summer.

Michael Buard has been promoted to Executive chef at the Intercontinental Buckhead. He was formerly Executive sous chef at the Intercontinental Chicago.

Charley and Nan Niyomkul(NAN,TAMARIND SEED) are being sought as consultants by Here to Serve Restaurants for the Thai portion of the menu at AJA, the project slated to replace EMERIL’S.

Downtown (DT). Shane Devereux, the promising young chef, has left PEASANT BISTRO.

Fayettville. Truett Cathy, founder, chairman and chief executive officer of Chick-fil-A Inc., is opening up a pizza place called UPSCALE PIZZA on Highway 314.

Inman Park. The Atlanta City Council recently issued a proclamation honoring Chef Kevin Rathbun for his recent Iron Chef America victory.

Midtown. The former SWEET LOWDOWN location at 945 Peachtree is currently being remodeled and will open this summer as ARTISTRY RESTAURANT and LOUNGE.

QUESTION of the WEEK: What former West Midtown restaurant owner is now Associate Culinary Director for Whole Foods Southern region?

Thank you for stopping by and remember that intention is the driver of behavior change.

PS. The answer to last week’s QOTW-What former Buckhead Village hotspot is rumored to be relocating to a Midtown location- is THE STEAMHOUSE LOUNGE. (Rumored to be locating in the former ELEMENT/CHERRY spot).

100% right 50% of the time.

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ALWAYS ON A SUNDAY.

One of the more interesting trends occurring in Atlanta’s dining scene is the addition of a Sunday Dinner to some of the better restaurants menus and in these troubling economic times it is providing not only a value meal but an opportunity to showcase southern cuisine in its finest form as well.

RESTAURANT EUGENE has set the standard for the presentation of southern style offerings prepared with local, sustainable ingredients but have an upscale twist. Their fried chicken, for example, using locally raised organic chicken, is prepared following a historic recipe. But the star of the menu, from my experience, is the Edna Lewis chocolate cake. Using a recipe from the famed southern cuisine doyenne, RESTAURANT EUGENE has taken a staple and transformed it into an award winning treat. Check it out!

Across town, JCT KITCHEN and BAR, has taken the concept of a meat and three to another level with a menu that includes 5 “fancy meats” and 9 “home style “vegetables each Sunday. The biscuits with apple butter; the fresh squeezed lemonade and the “farmstead salad’ fit the theme perfectly and when you add the dessert, you are in the way back machine transported back to the day when friends and family gathered on the Sabbath for food and fellowship.

Both experiences are prix fixe but offer 2 different environments. RE is a Buckhead spot that attracts a relaxed crowd but still has an upscale vibe. JCT is more of a funky vibe: RE has a classic jazz soundtrack; JCT offers a range of R&B to Country-all Southern themed. You can’t go wrong at either for a Sunday meal deal that is truly worth the visit.

NEWS and NOTES: (From my keyboard to your screen)

Downtown(DT). CAFÉ 458, the restaurant operated by the Samaritan House of Atlanta and serves homeless men and women during the week and the public (to SRO crowds) on the weekend, recently received a much needed renovation from TBS’s Movie and a Makeover.

Glenwood Park. THE SHED, a casual bistro serving American seasonal fare, has opened with Chef Daniel Atwood, formerly of PRIME, at the helm.

Old Fourth Ward. Scott Serpas, formerly of TWO URBAN LICKS, is naming his proposed contemporary American restaurant SERPAS.

Midtown. Todd Immel has left TABLE 1280 and joined Anne Quatrano and Clifford Harrison's growing restaurant operation (for further deets,see below).

The brand new Pond Room at SPICE MARKET is to place to really immerse yourself in chef Ian Winsblade’s Asian flavors. But please don’t throw anything into the pond.

Poncy Highland. PURA VIDA is now offering special Spanish paella Sunday where Chef Hector Santiago has bowls of his special creations for just $20.

West Midtown. The dynamic duo of Anne Quatrano and Clifford Harrison are planning to open ABATTOIR, a 130 seat “meat-centric” casual spot in the White Provision complex being renovated next to their Westside marketplace restaurants, this winter.

Question of the Week: What Downtown old timer is rumored to be for sale due to tornado damage that has slowed business dramatically?

Thanks for stopping by and remember that the manner of giving is worth more than the gift.

PS. The answer to last week’s QOTW- What former West Midtown restaurant owner is now Associate Culinary Director for Whole Foods Southern region-is Butch Raphael, former owner of PANGAEA.

100% right 50% of the time.

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West Midtown. The dynamic duo of Anne Quatrano and Clifford Harrison are planning to open ABATTOIR, a 130 seat “meat-centric” casual spot in the White Provision complex being renovated next to their Westside marketplace restaurants, this winter.

And am I the only one who finds this a really, really horrendous name for a restaurant? Will I be expected to slaughter and butcher my own meat? Will the process be part of the dinner's entertainment? Are the guests potentially subject to similar treatment?

Maybe there aren't that many people who would have such a visceral (pun intended) reaction to this name. It's French, and maybe that's good enough.

Can you pee in the ocean?

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West Midtown. The dynamic duo of Anne Quatrano and Clifford Harrison are planning to open ABATTOIR, a 130 seat “meat-centric” casual spot in the White Provision complex being renovated next to their Westside marketplace restaurants, this winter.

And am I the only one who finds this a really, really horrendous name for a restaurant? Will I be expected to slaughter and butcher my own meat? Will the process be part of the dinner's entertainment? Are the guests potentially subject to similar treatment?

Maybe there aren't that many people who would have such a visceral (pun intended) reaction to this name. It's French, and maybe that's good enough.

Very bad name. Perhaps the motto should be "where the elite meat to eat."

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Question of the Week: What Downtown old timer is rumored to be for sale due to tornado damage that has slowed business dramatically?

I am going to say that bastion of some thing or another.....Pittypat's Porch.

in loving memory of Mr. Squirt (1998-2004)--

the best cat ever.

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WHEN ONE DOOR CLOSES .. .

All of the drama surrounding the recent closing of Buckhead’s EMERIL’S was resolved, at least for me, with the opening of Concentrics Resturants’ latest, PARISH FOODS and GOODS: the small, neighborhood focused resto is better than the big, tourist focused one(was).

The New Orleans themed Inman Park eatery, which opened on the day EMERIL’S closed, not only provides Atlanta with a more authentic dining experience than EMERIL’S but its neighborhood focus and pricing is more in tune with current economic conditions. Plus, their emphasis on sustainable, organic and local product, reflected in the food, house baked goods, sandwiches and cured meats, is a testament to the skill and artistry woven throughout the experience.

On each of my visits- as a diner, getting take out and having cocktails- I was struck by the level of detail that went into creating the rustic atmosphere that reminds me of one my favorite spots in New Orleans, PASCAL’S MANALE. But the essence of the PARISH experience is the ability to please a very diverse customer base-diner, bar hoppers, take out diners or shoppers- with not only the food but a design that invites friendly interaction between and among everyone.

The food, prepared by veteran chef Tim Magee, is an adroit mixture of prime product prepared with precision. And it is whisked to you by a strong service team that is attentive without being obtrusive.

According to management, the neighborhood residents have been a significant part of the business, for food and goods. This bodes well because the trendinistas will depart when the next big thing opens.

So Atlanta, what we have with the advent of PARISH is not only the dawning of a new day for the rapidly gentrifying Inman Park neighborhood but a new twist on the growing trend of elevating Southern cuisine to a sophisticated art form that can be enjoyed by both residents and tourists alike.

NEWS and NOTES: (From my keyboard to your screen)

Buckhead. AJA(pronounced Asia), Here to Serve Restaurants French Asian spot that will be located in the former EMERIL’s, is scheduled to open October 1.Word is that it will be modeled after Paris’s famed BUDDHA BAR in both cuisine and musical ambience.

HOLEMAN and FINCH, the wildly popular Southern themed gastro pub, has finally obtained their liquor license.

Downtown (DT). JOHNNY ROCKETS will be opening a store in the brand new Hilton Garden Inn this summer.

SHRIMP BOAT FISH HOUSE, serving seafood, barbeque and po boys, has opened at 90 Forsyth Street.

Both MICK’S and THE PLEASANT PEASANT on Peachtree have closed for renovations. The signs on the doors state that after 35 years structural repairs are needed.

Inman Park. KEVIN RATHBUN STEAK has been named a 2007 Silver Plume award winner for ‘Best New Restaurant” by the Atlanta Concierge Society.

Midtown. TROIS is a recipient of a 2008 Wine Spectator magazine Award of Excellence.

ECCO has a new menu that is packing them in to the Fifth Group’s stylish Italianate spot. (Good Eats Alton Brown was spotted there recently)

Sandy Springs. Chef Lenny Robinson (LES FLEURS DE LIS CREOLE CAFÉ) is now the top toque at THE TASTING ROOM.

Question of the Week: What newly opened resto is part of an extensive Coca Cola market research project?

Thank you for stopping by and remember that wisdom is to the soul what health is to the body.

PS. The answer to last week’s QOTW- What Downtown old timer is rumored to be for sale due to tornado damage that has slowed business dramatically ?- is PITTY PAT’S PORCH.

NEWS FLASH: Kevin Maxey opening executive of CRAFT Dallas will be the opening chef for CRAFT Atlanta. The staff training for the restaurant will be done by The Mansion on Peachtree's Rosewood company.

Edited by micropundit (log)

100% right 50% of the time.

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Sandy Springs. Chef Lenny Robinson (LES FLEURS DE LIS CREOLE CAFÉ) is now the top toque at THE TASTING ROOM.

Is Les FLeur de Lis still open? And did the next-door sushi restaurant open?

I believe Chef Lenny said he closed Les Fleur de Lis and Tokyo 2020 is still not open. They have had construction delays for at least 9 months now. It may still happen but no telling when (if ever).

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WEATHERING THE STORM(S).

The recent storms , weather as well as economic, have created somewhat of a challenge for Atlanta’s dining scene and while some of the players are doing better than others, there appears to be some bright spots ahead.

When stalwarts such as Anne Quatrano say that their restaurants have seen a drop off in their business, then you know that there are problems. Several downtown stores have either closed or have reduced staff and operations. And rumors have flooded the blogasphere about troubles at some the Atlantic Station restos as well as one of the big names at Terminus.

However, in the midst of the sturm und drang, some of the local powerhouse operators have continued to expand. Here to Serve has completed the re formatting of POSH into HOME, featuring Top Chef 4 contestant Richard Blais and is hard at work with AJA, the pan Asian concept modeled after Paris’s MONKEY BAR, that is slated to fill the former EMERIL’S space in Buckhead.

Pano Karatassos, Atlanta’s Godfather of sole, is planning a flagship restaurant in the new 3344 Peachtree building as well as opening 2-3 new CHOPS LOBSTER BARS in Florida and other out of town locations.

Concentrics restaurants flush with the success of PARISH FOODS and GOODS, their New Orleans themed resto/bar/market, is being courted, rumor has it, by a hotel developer for a Buckhead project. They are also looking to open 3 new concepts, including an Italian deal, in Chicago by 2009.

So, say what you will about the economy and the recent weather challenges, there are some folks who are soldiering on to keep our dining scene on the sunny side of the street. At least that’s my point of view.

NEWS and NOTES: (From my keyboard to your screen)

Decatur. The former MICK’S location on E. Ponce de Leon is slated to become PARKER’S ON PONCE, Decatur’s first independently owned steakhouse.

THE COOKIE STUDIO, serving cookies, cupcakes, bars and brownies, donates a portion of its sales to the Atlanta day Shelter for Woman and Children. They are located at 747-c East College Street in downtown Decatur.

Downtown( DT). An “open air” café will be part of the downtown Atlanta W Hotel and Residences, scheduled to open this December.

In the same neighborhood, a JIMMY JOHN’S sandwich shop is scheduled to open at Twelve Centennial Park Hotel and Residences this fall.

Midtown. TJ’S SUB’S, at 620 Peachtree, has closed.

Tracey Bloom ,the former sous chef, has taken over as the new chef de cuisine at TABLE 1280.Tracey,a CIA grad, promises to bring an artistic flair to the job garnered through her experiences with restaurants like, SIA’S ,103 WEST, and ASHER.

Poncey Highland. MANUAL’S TAVERN has been selected as one of “America’s Best Bars” by Esquire magazine.

Toco Hills. SIMCHA BAKERY, Atlanta’s first kosher bakery, has opened in the Toco Hills shopping center at 2899 North druid Hills Road.

Question of the Week: What former Atlanta super star sommelier is now at one of Chicago’s new hotspots?

Thank you for stopping by and remember that understanding human needs is half of the job of meeting them.

PS. The answer to last week’s QOTW-What newly opened restaurant is part of an extensive Coca Cola market research project?-is HOLEMAN and FINCH.

100% right 50% of the time.

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Fans of Midtown favorite TAMARIND will be sadden by the news that it will be forcaed to close/move because of the construction of the 14th street bridge....

This is sad, as it was the most interesting restaurant in Midtown.

lived for a long while dead in the middle of Midtown and found really inspired food to be fleeting, at best. Something great would open and close, or open with great result only to have the chef move on or something else to change. Hopefully for Atlanta this has changed since I have been there. Atlanta always seemed to have flashes of brilliance in Midtown/ViHi, but nothing outside of a few places (Bacchanalia, etc) seemed to stick.

Has anything changed?

Edited by vinonola (log)

"I often wonder what the Vintners buy

One half so precious as the Goods they sell."

- Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam

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NEO AT NOON.

At a recent lunch at NEO (short for Neapolitan), the Mansion on Peachtree’s contemporary Italian inspired restaurant, I experienced a highly personalized and sophisticated style that is going to make everyone in town really take notice.

The cloistered room was the perfect setting for me, my host, and his other guest as well as the assortment of the shakers and movers (including the hotel’s developer) to leisurely lunch. The exquisitely designed space overlooks a beautiful English garden that my friends, two of the bright young stars of Atlanta’s hospitality world, and I raved about so much that the GM took us on a tour.

NEO’S design features light earth tones, soft, black and white leather furniture; chrome and crystal sconces and marble flooring, a theme that is repeated throughout the building –think Ralph Lauren meets the Carlyle Hotel.

We enjoyed superbly prepared cuisine from a menu that featured several pastas, a couple of seafood dishes and killer desserts.

We shared an appetizer, the fried calamari and artichoke mix, that was the bomb. My entrée, the lobster pappardelle, was savory but the pasta was a tad al dente. My friends’ entrees, the sea bass and roast chicken, were spot on. Our dessert, a delightful arrangement of chocolate, fruit and cheesecakes, ended the meal perfectly.

However, the key to the whole experience was the service: it was virtually seamless from our arrival to departure. With a staff drawn from the Ritz Carlton Buckhead and PRICCI and, coming soon, an Italian sous chef, NEO has 5 star potential written all over it.

After just this one experience, I can foresee a time- after all of the opening kinks are worked out- when NEO and the Rosewood Hotels culture, takes its rightful place as a trend setter in style, service and cuisine in Atlanta.

NEWS and NOTES: (From my keyboard to your screen)

Alpharetta. FIELD GOOD, a café/bakery offering salads, sandwiches and pastries to go located at 11500 Webb Bridge Way, is now open and already receiving critical acclaim.

Buckhead. TONGUE AND GROOVE, the long time Peachtree Road hotspot, is relocating to 565 Main Street in the Lindberg Center City development this summer.

Downtown(DT). NONI’S ITALIAN DELI and BAR will open at 357 Edgewood Avenue this summer.

JAVAOLOGY will reopen soon, this time the property’s owner will operate the popular coffee shop/ mix and mingle spot.

MISO IZAKAYA, a Japanese pub, will open on Edgewood Avenue this summer near THUMBS UP.

Marietta. The former GRAZIE: A BISTRO is now STATE GRILL , serving southern style cooking by chef Mauricio Diaz, formerly of THE TAVERN at PHIPPS.

Midtown. Speaking of hotel fine dining, the recent press report concerning the possibility of a third Ritz Carlton being located in Midtown means that more fine dining is on the horizon. Ritz Carlton has begun to add star restaurant operators, such as Laurent Tourondel's BLT MARKET, to its new properties. Many of them, like FEARING’S at the Dallas Ritz, have been designed by our own architect to the stars, Bill Johnson. So lets keep our ears to the ground and let me know if you hear anything about another Ritz in the ATL.

QUESTION of the WEEK: What Atlanta born and trained TV chef is planning to start a group of upscale southern themed restaurants , with the first one scheduled for the ATL?

Thank you for stopping by and remember that whatever follows an act is joined to what ever act preceded it.

PS. The answer to last week’s QOTW- What former Atlanta superstar sommelier is now at a newly opened Chicago hotspot?- is Chantelle Pabros(Grillhot). She is at L2O,Laurent Gras and Richard Melman’s modern seafood restaurant.

100% right 50% of the time.

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